Drifting Cargo


Our children are so good at bringing it into our lives.  And yet we try so hard to create a routine that we can live by so that there is familiarity, and pattern, and predictability and, really, as little change as possible.

When change comes around for the oldest child, doors open.  We are taken into new waters, views of new scenery on the horizon (often with tumultuous seas, other times smooth sailing).   The change they bring into our lives is at least as vast a change for us as it is for them.

The talk about boys.

Our first experience in the public school system.


Teacher conferences.

Soccer practices.

Navigating friendships.

Loosing a first tooth (and learning what a dollar can buy, which is not Tic-Tacs by the way).

Not to say that the youngest doesn’t go through changes too.  

But for the most part, the big changes are ones we’ve seen already.  Ones we have a little experience with, ones we were expecting (barring some differences in presentation due to their unique personalities).

Feeding themselves.

Dressing themselves.

Potty Training.

Zipping their zipper.

Tying their shoes (almost).

Communicating their thoughts and frustrations.

And, lately, I’m noticing that the younger one doesn’t seem so young anymore.  

While it feels good to be the Mom of two daughters with whom we can discuss things like expectations, behavior, cause and effect, attitude, problem solving, logic, sisterhood, teamwork, etc., I can’t help to feel a little bit different about the changes the younger one goes through compared to the older one.  Even though the changes themselves aren’t too dissimilar.  

Because, you see, from the perspective of the parent, experiencing their children’s childhood: while the oldest opens doors with change, the youngest one — walks through the same doorways — then closes them shut.


In November, we realized she no longer sucks her thumb at bedtime, silky edge of her blankie tucked snugly and precisely in the ipsilateral fist.  “She’ll do it at her own pace, there’s no need to rush it,” said the dental hygienist.  We asked her if she was ready to give her blankie to another baby who needed it, and she’d shake her head with a pouty lip.  “Okay, you let us know when you are ready”.  

Only, it wasn’t the blankie that went first, it was the thumb.  And when we caught on and said, “Hey Hadz, you don’t suck your thumb anymore, do you?”, she just shook her head, as if to say: It was no big deal; I don’t need it any more; I stopped a week ago.  

And then, this past week, at bedtime, as is our usual routine, I went to get her blankie for her and she said, “I don’t need my blankie anymowe.”  

She was so sure.

And I was so not.  How can she be sure she doesn’t want it?  Well.  But.  I have a clean one washed for her.  She always wants it.  That’s the routine.   

“I’m a big girl now, Mom”. 

Kisses, hugs, “goodnights” and “you’re right, you are so big"; and the same from Daddy.  “I’m a big girl now, Daddy, I don’t need my blankie anymowe”.  Kisses, hugs, affirmations and “goodnights”.  


I don’t think we ever intend to treat one child differently than the other.  But the truth is our experience, as the human parents that we are, is different with each.  

When Mayson was done with her pacifier, it was a nearly militant mission to rid the house of every pacifier in every corner, anything that looked like, smelled like or rhymed with the word “binkie” was tucked firmly in the next morning’s curbside trash.

But the blankies are still clean and folded on the guest room bed.  

The challenges and glories they bring into our lives are unique to them, and unique to our time and place as parents.  Both of which are constantly evolving and changing.  While the older one went through similar milestones of “I’m a big girl now”, it didn’t feel the same as it does when the younger one does.  Because the big girl moments of the last child means there won’t be another one like it.  They only get bigger from here.  

Even though the oldest is five, I just now feel the doors closing on their toddlerhood.  

I have never been one to be sad that they are getting older, however I recognize that with the welcoming of the next phase, there is a natural moment of pause as we push overboard the last. 

And as sure as the sun rises each morning, change will bring more doors, rocky waters, smooth sailing, and left-behind cargo floating toward the dusky skyline. 

What an awesome journey this is.    

 © Houseman 2013